Psalm 90:10

Yet every one wishes to live long. Every one imagines for himself an old age; and an ideal human life includes it. And yet there are but few who have the experience of old age who would really wish others to share it. Not without good reason did the ancients say, "Those whom the gods love die young." Length of life is a doubtful good, because -

I. THE AGED ARE PUT ASIDE FROM THE ACTIVITIES OF LIFE. Life goes past them: opinions change; customs change; business is changed. The old man no longer fits; he must stand aside; if he persists in keeping his place, he ruins his business, and worries everybody. It is hard to have to live on into a time when we shall no longer be of any use.

II. THE AGED MUST BEAR THE BURDEN OF FAILING POWERS. See the description of old age in Ecclesiastes. See the force of the terms "labour" and "sorrow" in the text. The necessary weakening of the bodily faculties is accompanied - save in very extreme cases - with corresponding failing of mental powers, and a trying limitation of human interests. The old man ceases to belong to his day, and lives over again his childish years. Sometimes aged helplessness, with disease, is most pitiful.

III. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SINS OF YOUTH. All sins of sensuality and self-indulgence carry their inevitable penalties; and if the pressure of them be delayed by a well regulated manhood, they come on a man with a rush when the vitality is lowered by advancing age. A man bears "the sins of youth in the bones of old."

IV. THE AGED OFTEN FIND THEIR HEAVIEST TROUBLE TO BE THE LONELINESS IN WHICH THEY ARE LEFT. He who has had troops of friends dies at last tended by the hireling. Loved ones die away or remove out of reach. The old man often says, as did the Revelation William Jay, of Bath, in his advanced years, "My burying ground is richer than my church." To sensitive, affectionate souls, aged loneliness must be the supreme woe. Wife, children, friends, gone on before. How the old man must say to himself continually -

"What is my nest to me? - my empty nest?"

V. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR DISTRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS BODILY FRAILTY. To live on means exhausting the savings; to be unable to earn; to have none to work for us. But life is in the Lord's hands, not ours. "If life be long, we will be glad, that we can long obey." - R.T.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten.
Homiletic Monthly.
I. LIFE'S EARTHLY LIMIT. "Threescore years and ten."

1. How long when viewed in the light of time — when compared with the common lot of mankind.

2. How short when viewed in the light of eternity.

II. LIFE'S COMMON HERITAGE. "Yet is their strength labour and sorrow."

1. Life even at its best estate is made up largely of labour and sorrow, of working and weeping.

2. Thank God for the labour and the sorrow, for they help us to rise to higher things. "Before I was afflicted," etc.


1. Happy transition for the Christian. The restraints of this cage life are ended.

2. Hopeless transition for the Christless.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. GOD HAS DIVINELY APPOINTED THAT LIFE SHALL BE MEASURED BY DIVISIONS OF TIME. Day and night, spring, summer, autumn and winter are God's way of distributing time. Each division is big with suggestions to us for whom the divisions were made.

1. It is a beneficent arrangement. The changes from the brightness of noonday to the blackness of midnight, from spring's sunshine and flowers to autumn's shadows and yellow leaves, from summer's heat to winter's frost, are voices whose emphasis and pathos are ever uttering grand yet awful lessons about mortality and death.

2. The arrangement furnishes symbols of our lifetime. Spring paints our childhood, summer our manhood, autumn old age, and winter death. Each year is an epitome of life.


III. LIFE MUST BE MEASURED BY YEARS BECAUSE OF ITS WORTH. Each year is dealt out to us in particles because of the preciousness of time. The possibilities that lie in every year, for good or evil, are prodigious.

IV. LIFE MUST BE MEASURED BY DIVISIONS OF TIME BECAUSE OF ITS IMPERCEPTIBLE DEPARTURE. It ebbs from us with every breath. We never had less of it than we begin this new year with. All the past is spent. Whether it has been squandered or well laid out, it is gone, and it went almost imperceptibly.

(Homiletic Monthly.)


1. Consider threescore years and ten, or fourscore years, as the limit beyond which the life of man doth not pass. The folly which leads men to expect to live a hundred years, because one individual may have reached them, is like that which encourages them to expect mercy in their last hour, because the thief on the cross obtained it. It hath the worst effects on life, and produces the bitterest feelings of disappointment and regret in death.(1) If we attend to the situation of the wicked, we will perceive the wisdom of this limitation of life. Seventy or eighty years are surely a sufficient space for the exercise of the Divine patience with them, and for proving what is in their hearts, whether they will keep His commandments or no.(2) To the righteous, life is a state of manifold temptations, and as God doth not afflict willingly, He will not subject them longer to these than He sees it necessary for the trial of their graces.

2. Consider that the limits of human life which are here specified are reached by few. Death commonly selects for its victims life at its best, and man in his prime. It becomes us, therefore, to say, "I will use the world as if I were soon to leave it; I will live with my friends as if I were soon to part with them; I will discharge my duty as becomes one who expects soon to give in his account."

3. The protracting of life to the limits here specified is not in itself desirable. the strength of such old men is labour and sorrow.(1) In consequence of the decline of their faculties, the aged are unfit for labour; and when they do apply themselves to it, they are soon obliged to desist. To them the grasshopper is a burden.(2) Mental application is oppressive to them likewise. It is a toil to them to read, and what they do read is quickly forgotten.(3) The languor and the wandering of their minds in religious duty distresses them. The affections which were once so active and fervent, now move slowly and reluctantly: and when they contrast their present with their past condition, it fills them with the painful apprehension that the Spirit of God hath abandoned them, and that they have lost what God hath wrought.

4. When life is come to these limits, its extinction may be hourly expected. It becomes the aged to submit to death without murmuring. It is your duty to be ready for your departure, and to employ every moment that remains in cultivating the spirit of the world to which you are going.


1. To those who have arrived, or are on the point of arriving, at these limits.(1) Think on the many opportunities you have had of promoting the Divine glory in comparison of others; and remember, that to whom much is given, of them also shall much be required.(2) Remember that if you are strangers to Christ, your saving acquaintance with Him must be now or never.

2. To those who are yet at a distance from these limits of human life.(1) Let those who are far advanced in years be the object of your pity and of your kind attentions. Encourage them in their labour, and cheer them in their sorrow.(2) Acquaint now yourselves with God; and if your days shall be shortened, grace shall conduct you more speedily to eternal life; and should they be prolonged for fourscore years, it will support and comfort you amidst the labour and sorrow of the season of decay.(3) Consider the diseases and afflictions which may be sent to you in the early seasons of life, as intended to remind you that death is at hand, and to induce you to submit to it cheerfully.

(H. Belfrage, D. D.)

The seventieth milestone of life is here planted as at the end of the journey. A few go beyond it; multitudes never reach it. First, then, I accost those of you who are in the twenties. You are full of expectation. You are ambitious — that is, if you amount to anything — for some kind of success, commercial, or mechanical, or professional, or literary, or agricultural, or social, or moral. Are you looking for wealth? Well, remember that God controls the money markets, the harvests, the droughts, the caterpillars, the locusts, the sunshine, the storm, the land, the sea, and you will get wealth. Perhaps not that which is stored up in banks, in houses and lands, but,our clothing, and board, and shelter, and that is about all you can appropriate anyhow. What a critical time, the twenties! While they continue you decide your occupation and the principles by which you will be guided. You make your most abiding friendships. You fix your habits. Lord God Almighty, have mercy on all the men and women in the twenties! Next I accost those in the thirties. You are at an age when you find what a tough thing it is to get recognized and established in your occupation or profession. In some respects the hardest decade of life is the thirties, because the results are generally so far behind the anticipations. Nine-tenths of the poetry of life have been knocked out of you since you came into the thirties. Men in the different professions and occupations saw that you were rising, and they must put an estoppel on you, or you might somehow stand in their way. They think you must be suppressed. Your decade is the one that will probably afford the greatest opportunity for victory, because there is the greatest necessity for struggle. As it is the greatest time of the struggle, I adjure you, in God's name and by God's grace, make it the greatest achievement. The fact is, that by the way you decide the present decade of your history you decide all the following decades. Next I accost the forties. Yours is the decade of discovery. No man knows himself until he is forty. By that time he has learned what he can do, or what he cannot do. He was sailing on in a fog and could not take a reckoning, but now it clears up enough to allow him to find out his real latitude and longitude. He has been climbing, but now he has got to the top of the hill, and he takes a long breath. Oh, this mountain-top of the forties! You have now the character you will probably have for all time and all eternity. Tell me, O men and women who are in the forties, your habits of thought and life, and I will tell you what you will for ever be! My sermon next accosts the fifties. This is the decade which shows what the other decades have been. If a young man has sown wild oats, and he has lived to this time, he reaps the harvest of it in the fifties, or if by necessity he was compelled to overtoil in honest directions, he is called to settle up with exacting nature some time during the fifties. O ye who are in the fifties, think of it! A half century of blessing to be thankful for, and a half century subtracted from an existence which, in the most marked cases of longevity, hardly ever reaches a whole century. By this time you ought to be eminent for piety. You have been in so many battles, you ought to be a brave soldier. You have made so many voyages, you ought to be a good sailor. So long protected and blessed, you ought to have a soul full of doxology. My sermon next accosts the sixties. The beginning of that decade is more startling than any other. In his chronological journey the man rides rather smoothly over the figures "2," and "3," and "4," and "5," but the figure "6" gives him a big jolt. He says: "It cannot be that I am sixty. Let me examine the old family record. I guess they made a mistake. They got my name down wrong in the roll of births." But, no, the older brothers or sisters remember the time of his advent, and there is some relative a year older and another relative a year younger, and sure enough the fact is established beyond all disputation. Sixty! Now, your great danger is the temptation to fold up your faculties and quit. You will feel a tendency to reminisce. If you do not look out you will begin almost everything with the words, "When I was a boy." But you ought to make the sixties more memorable for God and the truth than the fifties, or the forties, or the thirties. You ought to do more during the next ten years than you did in any thirty years of your life, because of all the experience you have had. My subject next accosts those in the seventies and beyond. My word to them is congratulation. You have got nearly, if not quite through. Here and there a skirmish with the remaining sin of your own heart and the sin of the World, but I guess you are about done. How do you feel about it? You ought to be jubilant because life is a tremendous struggle, and, if you have got through respectably and usefully, you ought to feel like people toward the close of a summer day seated on the rocks watching the sunset. The most of your friends have gone over the border, and you are going to join them very soon. They are waiting for you. What we all need is to take the supernatural into our lives. Do not let us depend on brain, and muscle, and nerve. We want a mighty supply of the supernatural. How to get it? Just as you get anything you want. By application. If you want anything you apply for it. By prayer apply for the supernatural. Take it into your daily business. A man got up in a New York prayer-meeting and said: "God is my partner. I did business without Him for twenty years, and failed every two or three years. I have been doing business with Him for twenty years and have not failed once." Oh, take the supernatural into all your affairs!

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

The days of our years are threescore years and ten. There is more sound than reality in that statement. The figures are illusory. Take from the seventy years some five years of more or less irresponsible infancy, and the figure drops to sixty-five. From sixty-five subtract one-third of itself as spent in sleep, and the figure drops to some forty-three years. That is, assuming that we live out the whole string of the seventy years. But let us take the obviously too high average of human life at fifty years: make the same deductions, and we shall find the average of human life reduced to some thirty years. But, though life is short, yet it is immortal; both the statements are true, and are therefore reconcilable. The leaves of every summer fall and die, but the great forests fatten and strengthen, and wave in the winds of centuries. An individual man dies and can no more be found than can the knell that dies upon his grave, yet humanity continues — continues building its cities, its temples and towers, weaving and spinning, carving and singing, going with a high joy, as if no grave had ever been cut in the breast of the green earth. We are not, therefore, to mope and moan about our own little day; we are not to lock ourselves up in the little prison of the uncertainty of our own existence; we are not to sit down and read the Bible till death tells us that it is time to go. We have to take in all the world as if it were our business to look after it; we must be inspired by our immortality, not discouraged by our frailty. It was thus that Jesus lived. He died ere He had lived out half His seventy years, yet He never died at all. He said: "Pull down what temple you like, that is good, and I will build it again: you cannot pull down God's temples except that they may be rebuilt and enlarged;" and whilst the enemy had Him, the one on the left shoulder and the other on the right, and were hurrying Him away to kill, Him, He turned His head over His shoulder, as it .were, and said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Jesus Christ still keeps His place in civilization. He begins where others end. Where they cry from exhaustion He puts on His strength. Where the mystery bewilders and blinds them, He dispels it by many a shaft of light. He is the propitiation for my sins, He stands between me and God, and O, mystery of love, He stands between me and Himself; for He, too, is Judge, and the sentence of life and death is upon His lips. He knows my days — He comforts me with many a promise.

(J. Parker, D.D.)

And if by reason of
1. From the ordinary weaknesses of the body. Very few are permitted to carry with them down into the vale of years the vigour of youth. The muscles lose their elasticity, the eye grows dim, the ear is dull of hearing, and the whole body bends toward the grave.

2. From decay of the mental energies. The power of thought, of reflection, of association, and of reasoning, the power of recollection and of memory, seem all to partake of the same weakness as do the powers of the body.

3. From depression of animal spirits. The mind that has been active, and has commanded attention and respect, cannot, without some degree of pain, see itself neglected, and sinking into comparative disesteem. Hence we cannot wonder if we see crossing the cheek, furrowed with age, the tear of melancholy.

4. From loss of companions. He stands like a tree which was once in the bosom of a forest, but now is left to feel the full weight of every storm, while the associates of his youth, whose united energies would obtrude the blast, have all perished; and his decaying boughs too strongly indicate that he must soon yield the soil to a later growth, and permit the winds of heaven to pass unobstructed.

5. From the impression that every step is upon the margin of the grave. Every pang he feels reminds him that his grave will soon be ready. So tardy flows the stream of life as to assure him that soon the heart will beat no longer.

(D. A. Clark.)

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